My Simming Memoirs

Part 6: Afterglow

Preparing for Mutiny by N.C. Wyeth

Chapter 37: My Return; Chapter 38: STS; Chapter 39: New Era; Chapter 40: Gillis; Chapter 41: Vid; Chapter 42: The Widsom of the Court; Chapter 43: Working Behind the Scenes; Chapter 44: The Mutiny; Chapter 45: Jellybeans Forever

 

Chapter 37: My Return

"I told him you tend to be straightforward, and that sometimes people take it wrong the way because of how you word things." - Vid to Chas in an IM reporting how Vid calmed down a disgruntled member, April 2, 2001.

My retirement was short lived. In March 2000, I quietly disappeared from Trek Online and the Simming League. After simming nonstop for 5 years and running TOL for 3 years, I was glad to be finished. I still enjoyed simming, but it was no longer my passion.

Two months later, Robin informed me that the club was in trouble. She was in over her head, didn't have the time to be the president, didn't realize how much the job would take, and hated being the President. Without a forceful hand to guide the club and make it a reality, TOL began to fall apart.

Membership plummeted from 110 members when I left in January to 75 in May. This was the result of people leaving with me when I retired, the fact Robin didn't pay adequate attention to recruiting and member retention, and that people had become fed up with the situation and left. Questions and concerns went unaddressed, newsletters weren't sent out, and things generally began to fly apart. Robin was very smart, and it's to her great credit that she realized the problems early on, and realized that she didn't have the time or ability to address them. Only if some of TOLs other Presidents had that ability...

When Robin mentioned that she wanted to resign right away and asked if I was interested in returning as the President, I couldn't help myself. I didn't want to see my club die, and even if simming was no longer my passion, the challenge of returning and fixing the club was too much to pass up. I insisted that everything be done legitimately - that the Assembly vote to make me the Vice President knowing that I was to become the President again - and that the club be given some time to hear and get used to the news. She agreed.

The Assembly quickly approved me as the Vice President, and on May 23, 2000, Robin resigned as the President and I returned.

In retrospect, I shouldn't have returned as the President. TOL was peaceful, had 75 members, and lots of talent to build upon. The situation clearly needed attention and some hard work to fix, but it wasn't so drastic as to require my immediate return.

Part of the problem was I faded away way too quickly. Chip stayed around for 2 years after he left the Presidency. I should have remained active in the club in some capacity to give it more stability, and be there to offer advise and confidence to the President. I should have tried to convince Robin to remain to the end of her term and offered to return to the club to help her out where I could. Or if she was set on resigning, Kyle, her Vice President, should have taken over and I could have returned to help him. Robin and I felt that Kyle wasn't ready to be the President, but I've since learned not to put much stock into such assessments. It's just a sim club. Plus, who would have thought I was ready to run a club after one month as the Vice President in a broken down sim club on Prodigy? Kyle was the VP and he should have gotten the job.

My sudden return rubbed a few people the wrong way. Kyle was upset about being pushed aside, but he never said anything and carried out his duties as CO of the Dark Falcon. Most of the old TOL members didn't care, they knew me and were glad to see me return. The problem was that at the end of my Presidency and into the beginning of Robin's term, the DASG and its two ships - the Dark Angel and WM Wolf - merged into TOL. All of my talk of republic and voting came across as hypocritical to them when I returned in a hastily thrown together backroom Assembly vote. The seed of mistrust had been planted and would explode 3 years later.

Had I been smart and paying attention when I returned, I would have quickly reached out to Vid (CO of the Dark Angel), Travis (CO of the WM Wolf) and members of the DASG, offered them key posts in the club, promoted some of them to captains and first officers, and asked for their advise. I also would have toured the club, attended all of the sims, and try to get to know everyone in the club. But I was in old timer mode. I reached out to my old core, and in many cases pulled them out of retirement, and plugged them back into the club. Moses became my Vice President. Clodo returned as the clubs webmaster.

I figured I would stay for a few months till the end of Robin's term, fix the club, and have everyone vote on a new President. That's why I didn't bother to get to know the club, which had changed a lot in the few short months I was gone. And, because I didn't think I was going to be there for very long, I had no vision - which I found to be a dangerous thing. Without a goal to reach, I was swept along by the events of the day, instead of being a leader and shaping the events to my advantage.

I did push through a few changes - I restarted New Horizons as my sim and attempted to promote it's open sim idea - where you had a set crew, but no set ship or captain... every week it would be something new - with limited success (I also restarted the Vindi as a message board sim with more suscess). Aside from that, I was on auto pilot. I responded to questions, I gave orders, I made sure my captains sent out their logs and simmed on time, I recruited, I trained new cadets, and soon enough the club started to stabilize.

We even entered into a partnership with a German club. One day in July, I received an E-mail from www.trekonline.de. We agreed to exchange banners and link each others site. Nothing ever came of it, but it was a reminder of how small the world has become.

I was optimistic that things were going well. In August, I began work on expanding my memoirs (at the time they only covered 1996 and 1997). In the introduction I wrote, "Located in a virtual world where nothing exists and everything changes at the speed of light, simming can be a perilous, and sometimes dangerous business. The online role playing universe is a chaotic world that is always in flux, a world where a minute could forever make or break a club. In this world, most simmers move on to another club within a few months, and most clubs die within a year. Yet, Trek Online has somehow managed to navigate the virtual storms, and not only survive, but thrive.

Founded in 1996, Trek Online is ancient by simming standards, where a year could be considered a century. In fact, the club has existed for so long that no one person, not even myself, has been around to witness its entire history.

But despite this, as a club, Trek Online remains young and vibrant. You can always tell when a club has become old; its sims become stale, its people unenergetic, and its machinery bogged down in pointless rules and procedures promulgated by a top-heavy staff of admirals. After four years, none of those signs of age exist in TOL."

It was all very true, but there were problems I didn't notice, and my detached management style caught up to me soon enough. Every fall the club experienced a decline in membership and attendance as people returned to school. But it was particularly drastic in the fall of 2000. Membership, which had slowly climbed to about 85, suddenly plummeted to about 60. I'm not sure why the school slump was so severe this time around, but I do know I hadn't been aggressive enough with recruiting during the summer to try to offset it. The only people who had been recruiting were old timers like Amy. Very few newer members or people from the old DASG had stepped up, which indicated a serious problem - they didn't feel like they had a stake in the club and/or simply weren't motivated to help out.

To compound matters, most of the people who left when school resumed were from "TOL sims." Again, I have no idea why this happened, nor have I been able to find a common reason to explain it. Perhaps it was just the luck of the draw. In any event, the Dark Angel enjoyed strong attendance while the TOL ships declined. By November, the club was pretty much split evenly between TOLers and DASG members.

The split wasn't deep and there weren't any major tensions associated with it. Everyone got along well enough, and there didn't have to be a divide, but failed leadership on my part caused the divide to persist.

The merger with the DASG had been slow and deliberate. It began in the summer of 1999 when TOL and DASG "met" via the Tournament of Simulations. During the fall of 1999 and winter of 2000, the DASG slowly joined TOL. My concern was preventing a civil war - like there had been with the Independence Group - and this approach prevented a war because it allowed both clubs time to get used to each other and avoid misunderstandings. However, it also preserved the divide. A quick "You're now members of TOL, welcome, and that is that" kind of merger would have avoided the divide, but been more fraught with danger had the merger not worked out. I'll leave it to other leaders to find a better balance.

Dragging out the merger as long as we did, with all of the rules and provisional status and the like probably wasn't necessary. Sure, it was the first time a club joined TOL since the Independence Group in 1996, but other sims had joined TOL over the years without incident, and there didn't seem much risk posed by 25 or so people joining a club of over 100. I was just cautious, way too cautious.

However, by the fall of 2000, the situation had changed drastically. An artificial, psychological divide between TOL and the DASG persisted. DASG simmers maintained their own core and hadn't been fully integrated into TOL, and now, because of the declines in TOL, they represented half - the dynamic and growing half - of the club.

Things in the club had fallen deeply, and I think the barbarians who always circle just outside sim clubs sensed our problems, for a few of them - kids with nothing better then make fun of Star Trek - began to attack some of our sims in October 2000. However, I had learned my lesson with Ben. I quickly E-mailed everyone in the club what was going on, instructed people not to provide them info about the club, and told my captains to move to block the people if they showed up, and move to another chat room if necessary. Soon, the raiders grew tired and seeing they weren't going to get to us, gave up and moved on.

We also had a reoccurring bout with a nut named Greg, who you could say was FSFs version of Forum Ally times 10. He turned up in TOL in July, began harassing and threatening some of my members, and, working closely with Chief Justice Anne, he was promptly kicked out. He attempted to sneak back into the club November and January under assumed names, but we tracked him down and kicked him out. Since this was Shuni's criminal, I deferred to him. He felt behind the scenes coordination was better than an all out Simming League trial, and that's what we did. Greg never bothered TOL again, but I know he turned up from time to time in the FSF.

Luckily or not, no one ran against me in the October 2000 Presidential election. My plan to serve out Robin's term and leave didn't pan out, but given the sudden declines in membership, it probably wouldn't have been best for me to leave.

The sudden decline and being forced to remain in office longer than expected made me reevaluate the situation. I saw that I needed the help of Vid and the crew of the Dark Angel. In the past, the Vindicator, Endeavor, and Stonewall had been the core of TOL. I realized the Dark Angel was becoming the new core with its tight nit crew and well attended sims. I realized I had to go out into the club and get to know it. TOL had changed drastically over the year. Very few of the captains and simmers served with me during my first go around as President.

I put Bel - Vid's wife - in charge of the monthly TOL Times newsletter, and she did a great job. I began to attend the Dark Angel and WM Wolf sims and the other sims in the club. I got to know the crew members and encouraged them to recruit - and recruit they did. New people poured into the club, membership shot up, and by February of 2001 the crises had stabilized. The club returned to 85 members, and over the spring, TOL continued to grow towards its normal level of 100 members.

In March, I made Vid my Vice President, and things seemed to be getting better. The club began to thrive again. The sims and activities were full, the quality was good, TOL continued to received awards and praise, and remained a leader of the simming world. But I still wasn't fully paying attention. I didn't have the time or passion for it anymore. I still drifted along in key areas. A year after I had returned to the Presidency, I was still relying on my old timers and plugging people like Matt, Mike, Robin, and Carrie, into commands when I should have been finding deserving Lieutenants and Commanders and making them the new generation of club leaders.

Also, I didn't treat Vid as a Vice President. I continued to go to my old core for advise, and I gave them duties to carry out. Vid isn't the kind of person to speak up, so he suffered in silence, wishing I would turn to him, wishing I would treat him with more respect. In the end he just became resentful of me.

Unknown to me, under the surface of TOLs revival were growing cracks between Vid and myself, and between the junior officers (most of them from the Dark Angel) who deserved commands and my old core who was still in power.

In the early summer of 2001, I finally began to wise up to the situation, I wasn't fully aware of it. In retrospect it's so clear, but at the time I just wasn't paying attention, nor did I have the necessary time needed to run a club.

I turned to Vid for advise and gave him orders to carry out. When there was an opening on a ship for a captain or first officer post, I turned to him to give me a name, and the club soon ended up with wonderful new captains - such as Rilles and Nate Horn. I quickly realized it was my time to step aside as the President and let Vid take over. I saw the work he had done in the DASG before it merged into TOL, and I knew he had the raw talent to make a good President. I also knew the club was becoming his. The Dark Angel was the dynamic center of TOL. It was his crew that was the most active in the club. It was his people who were becoming the new captains. My new plan was to work with them, mold them into TOL, prepare Vid to take over the club, and step aside.

 

Chapter 38: STS

"All I've asked for is loyalty, loyalty to STS, abidance by STS procedures, and continued effort to sim in my absence. Despite Charles' statements, there is an STS, and procedures to follow. I have been absent on and off for about one year now, with real life difficulties, but I have always been available via email to help anyone with anything. The Lancelot is an STS ship sim, and my absence is no reason for secede the ship from that organization no matter how inactive or how small it may be in a person's opinion. If any of you are unhappy with the Lancelot, or STS... feel free to leave. You are all citizens in a free country, however the ship named Lancelot belongs to STS, and remains under all rules, procedures, and regulations set forth hearin." - Vice Admiral NFO, attempting to defend himself, in an E-mail to what was left of STS, December 30, 2000.

Serving as a warning of what could occur, the once grand Star Trek Sims (STS) club lay in ruins. Unable to cope with the new simming era, it suffered a massive split in 1997. Admiral Trekker and Vice Admiral NFO attempted some reforms, and Moses had stepped forward and became a leading captain and Sim Master in the club. But by 1999, STS was exhausted. Trekker and NFO gave up, and soon all that remained was NFO's ship, the USS Lancelot, and a lone E-mail sim, the USS Harvard.

I remained in STS, serving on the Lancelot as a Lt. Commander and Chief Engineer. It was a good ship with a fine crew, and I always had a good time. No one knew I was Chas, so I was able to relax and enjoy simming without the pressures of command. For most of 1999 and 2000, NFO wasn't seen, and the ships first officer, Commander Jana Voi Windstar (Windy), served as the acting captain. She did a wonderful job, I would have made her a captain in TOL in a second. By December 2000, Windy was tired of simming and commanding the ship. She step aside, and as the next most senior officer onboard, promoted me to Captain and put me in command of the Lancelot. NFO quickly appeared to bless the arrangement, stressing that he was still in ultimate command, and disappeared again.

I moved quickly to shore up the ship. A few old timers returned and we managed to bring in a few recruits. We enjoyed a good multi week sim during January and February in which the Lancelot uncovered the Romulans building a base on a pre-warp world and busily working to get the local population on their side. We had a nice faceoff with a Romulan Warbird, and our away team made a dramatic escape from the natives on the planet.

During January, I talked to Windy, NFO (whenever he decided to reply to my E-mails), Admiral Trekker, and Daman, the CO of the Harvard. STS had been a good club, and even though there were only 2 ships left, it was one of the few surviving first generation clubs that was dedicated to accurate recreations of Star Trek and really deep, professional simming. I wanted to save it, in part because the simming world needed clubs like STS to keep alive the old ways, and in part because I enjoyed the challenge that rebuilding an old first generation club where no one knew who I was would present.

I presented several ideas for how to rebuild the club... have a new military leader, have Trekker and NFO step back up, have a command council, etc. Sadly, things quickly came to a head, with NFO sending out the occasional E-mail saying everything was fine and that he was still in charge. I got fed up and pointed out that he hadn't done anything for 2 years and things were hardly fine. Windy stepped in to try to calm everyone down, and I backed off. I focused my efforts on reviving the STS newsletter and E-mail Trek trivia string. Per my usual style, I also turned my attention to the guidebook, which was years out of date. To help train the new cadets on the Lancelot, I would need current info. On February 20, 2001, I E-mailed my new guidebook to Daman, Windy, NFO, and Trekker to get their feedback.

I was expecting a constructive debate, but I was assailed from all angles. Daman accused me of copyright violations for updating Trekkers and NFOs guidebook. NFO once again said everything was fine and there was no reason to change anything, and that he was still in charge. NFO also made the sly comment that I should go start up my own club and write my own guidebook... little did he know ;-) Windy also wondered what was wrong with the guidebook and why it had to change. Wishing to get a discussion going, I E-mailed a series of points where the guidebook was out of date and why I made changes to it... things like deleting divisions that no longer existed, changing the rules for Sim Masters to reflect current practices, putting forward a new command structure, etc.

On the 21st, I finally got a hold of Trekker in an IM, but he didn't seem to care. I think he would have been happy to see his club continue, but he didn't want to run it, nor did he want to oppose NFO - the real power. So nothing came of the discussion.

On the 22nd and 23rd, the situation deteriorated into back and forth mudslinging and was hopeless. Windy was ready to resign, but I talked her out of it since she was a good officer and I didn't want to lose her. In a last desperate attempt, I revealed to Windy that I was Chas, that I knew how to run a club, and that she should trust me and help me out. It backfired. Perhaps fearing I would take over and merge STS into TOL (which is something I would have never done - STS was too different and I wanted to preserve the unique old styles of STS as an independent club), Windy retook command of the Lancelot. I resigned on the 23rd, and NFO quickly and happily accepted.

The Lancelot and STS carried on for a few more months, but Trekker and NFO did nothing, and eventually the crew of the Lancelot fizzled and parted ways. STS was no more, and I was put on warning by history of what could happen to a stubborn old leader who couldn't or wouldn't retire or get out of the way.

 

Chapter 39: New Era

AdmChasTOL: Credo Elvem ipsum etian vivere

ViceAdmVidiotTOL: Whats that mean?

AdmChasTOL: I think Elvis is still alive

ViceAdmVidiotTOL: LMAO

-Vid and Chas attempt to come up with a Latin motto for TOL, IM chat, June 24, 2001.

During my second presidency, I began to realize that simming was entering a new era. The time when simming was dominated by online services was rapidly coming to an end as people rapidly moved onto the internet. Like with the revolutions of 1997, clubs that changed with the times in 2001 survived and prospered, those that did not were swept aside by history.

The club had already been moving with the forces of history. We had a wonderful website that helped to attract new recruits, our chat sims were moved out of AOL chat rooms so that anyone could take part in them, and we established internet message boards.

I also saw that simming was changing, and I attempted to open up the club to new ideas - such as New Horizons and the idea to have rotating captains - but my biggest push came when I tried to expand Trek Online beyond sims altogether.

Admiraly Dailey of CompuServe fame - who I remained in touch with - came to me with the idea to organize gaming clans for TOL. With increased competition from EverQuest and other online computer games, he argued, and I agreed, the club had to respond. He volunteered to organize the gaming clans - groups of people who owned online multiplayer Star Trek games.

The clans proved to be an amazing success, rapidly attracting over a hundred people who played the games together, competed with each other and the other clans. But at the end of August, the clans basically mutinied and went off on their own. What happened was a clash of personalities between Dailey and the principle gamers, but it was my fault really. I didn't pay any attention to them, didn't get to know the gamers, didn't understand the clans, but tried to force them into the Assembly and the clubs structure.

It was a major wake up call to me. I didn't have the time or energy needed to pay attention to the gaming clans. While the gaming clans didn't impact the sims, I knew I didn't have enough time to run the full club too, and I worried the same things may eventually happen to the sims if I just continued to work on auto pilot.

At the same exact time, things were exploding in the Simming League. Shuni had served as the President of the League from March to September 2000, and Robin - who took over as TOLs Senator after I left in March of 2000 - served as the President from September 2000 to March 2001. They both had been able to repair the major damage caused by the Ben, Gillis, and Eppy messes, and the President at the time - Erik Nighthawk - was enjoying a successful time in office.

I become the Chief Justice of the League in the summer of 2000, and through a series of landmark cases, expanded the role and prestige of the Court. In August 2001, my long time friend, Ender Maki - who had served as my Vice President in the League, and who came up with the idea for SciWorld - posted a speech that was critical of Shuni and the FSF.

During 2001, there was growing concern in the League about the FSF's increasingly aggressive recruiting and merging tactics - it seemed as half of the League ended up in the FSF - and its PR people also seemed to quickly show up to 'correct' any bad statements made about the FSF.

When Maki's speech was mysteriously deleted from the League's message board, many people were upset and outraged. The real kicker is that, at the time, the League's message boards were on AOL - so an AOL staffer with proper access had to delete the post. It was widely rumored that Shuni and members of the FSF had such positions with AOL, and the deletion of the post raised serious questions about the growing power of the FSF in the simming world.

Maki filed a case against Shuni, alleging that he deleted the post, thus violating League rules for freedom of debate. Under the Simming League rules, there weren't separate investigators and judges. The justices conducted investigations, asked questions and collected evidence. Nothing major, just a quick look over to make sure the case had merit. If they felt there was enough there, both sides would be called and a full trial would be conducted. For simming, it's a good enough system and worked in the past. However, Shuni's crack team of simming attorneys and PR people quickly got to work, claiming the system was un-American and citing Federal law. They filed motion after motion, and I tried to explain that this was a simming case. The Court heard their arguments and responded to them, citing the League constitution and League rules saying there wasn't an issue. But they just simply refused to listen and cooperate.

I became so fed up that I quit the court. Ironically, the day was August 31, 2001, 5 years to the day after I started Trek Online. I was just burnt out, that's all. I didn't have the energy or patience left in me to deal with these petty disputes or run a sim club. I had been thinking about retiring for months, but now it all came to a head and the date seemed appropriate. Frustrated by the League, and realizing I was losing my edge after the gaming clan incident, I also announced my pending retirement to the club. I decided I would not seek reelection and would step down at the end of my term in November.

My final months in TOL passed quietly. On balance, my second Presidency had been a great success. One wouldn't know it from what I've written here, but I restored the club. By 2001, the club was strong and prosperous once again, with about a hundred members, a dozen sims, and lots of fun. My more ambitious ideas - the gaming clan, New Horizons, etc - didn't take hold, and I wasn't as focused and determined as I had been in my younger days. But I had left a bad taste in Vid's mouth, and that would come back to haunt everyone.

The Simming League was a different matter. The collapse of the trial against Shuni brought the League to near civil war. The feelings pro and anti towards the FSF were running at a fever pitch - you either loved them or hated them. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, thanks mostly to President Nighthawk and Zappy.

Erik Nighthawk was facing difficulties and revolts in his own club at the time. But instead of focusing on them, he focused on the problems in the League, doing everything he could to talk to everyone, calm people down, and hold the League together. In the end, the problems in his club destroyed it, but he saved the League, and for that he received the Simming League Prize for Peace. Zappy, who was elected the President on September 19, 2001, continued Nighthawk's work, and managed to get myself and Seth - the Senator from the Starfleet Legacy Alliance (SLA) and Shuni's primary lawyer - to sit down and work together on a new constitution and a package of League reforms to fix the problems with the court and other potential fatal flaws.

For nearly 4 months Seth and myself worked and battled it out. Many times it seemed our positions and ideas for changes were too vast, but Zappy kept on prodding us along, and somehow we found common ground. In the end, we produced a new constitution far superior to the previous one. It was quickly agreed to by the Senate and member clubs, and the Fourth League was born.

When the new constitution came into effect on February 9, 2002 , Zappy stepped aside and Seth became the President and I the Vice President. Even while I was retired from Trek Online, I stayed on as TOLs Senator and continued to serve in the League. Vid didn't care much for the League, and he had no problem with me staying on as the Senator. I would update him and the Assembly as to what was occurring, but no one seemed to care too much.

Seth's term in office was quite good. He moved the League to internet message boards and more so than any other President in League history, he was dedicated to the notion of the League as a forum where clubs could interact and exchange ideas. He lead many discussions on a wide range of simming topics. He also established the first League library of documents - guidebooks, essays, and simming advise - that clubs, simmers, and leaders could reference and use in their own club.

Our activities also picked up - SciWorld 2002 went well - and the Tournament of Simulations was restarted. In a sign of how things in TOL were beginning to slip after I had left, the club had won the ToS in 1999, won the scaled down version in 2001, but failed to win in any category in 2002.

However, as Seth's Presidency progressed, he found that he had less and less time to run the League, and in early August, he announced that he wouldn't run for reelection.

I wasn't interested in becoming the President - I had been there and done that. The only person who was interested in being the President was Gillis. Despite all of his earlier problems - with Ben, Eppy, Wizzo, etc - he had been behaving himself. I still didn't trust him, but he didn't trust me, so what is one to do? I was tempted to run against him, but before I did that, I offered to be his running mate, figuring that way I would be able to keep a very close eye on him. Really wanting to become the President, and fearful I would win if I ran, Gillis accepted.

It was a political arrangement forged by common mistrust and loathing. Had I known people would think it meant we were friends, I would have never done it.

For several weeks, it looked like we would win unopposed. However, at the last minute, and I mean the last minute - one minute before the filing deadline at midnight - Seth changed his mind and decided to run. As election day approached, everyone, including Seth, was sure Gillis would win. Seth went out of his way to explain he really didn't want to be reelected, he just wanted to run to make sure there was an election. But my fellow Senators had a different opinion.

In the League, the election occurs over several days, during which time Senators E-mail their votes to the Justices. The election is scheduled to end on the 19th, but by the 17th all of the Senators had voted. The Justices decided to announce the winner a few days early. Seth had won. Apparently I wasn't the only one who didn't trust Gillis.

The only problem was the Court didn't have the power to end the election early. The Constitution clearly said the election was to continue to the 19th. In addition, Senators had the right to change their votes up to the last minute, so just because everyone had sent in a vote by the 17th didn't mean it was set in stone. Gillis, of course, argued that the election was still open and asked the Court to reopen it till the 19th. In my typical nuanced fashioned, I argued that the Court should declare the election to be open to the 19th, but recognizing the fact it goofed, also rule that no one could change their vote, thus effectively ending the election while keeping everything constitutional.

The Court rejected my line of thinking and reopened the election till the 19th. Gillis wasted no time hounding the Senators and getting people to change their votes. He would later claim that he lost the election because people didn't want me to be the Vice President, and as soon as he talked to the Senators and calmed their nerves that 6 more months of me as Vice President wouldn't be a disaster, people switched their votes to him - whatever.

As things would have it, when the election finally ended on the 19th at 11:59pm, Gillis had won by one vote. However, the Court didn't want Gillis to become the President - they didn't trust him either. Two of the Justices conspired to get one of the Senators who had voted for Gillis to change their vote to abstain - this occurred at 2am on the 20th - 2 hours after voting ended. The Justices soon after announced that it was a tie, and in accordance with the Constitution, the Court would vote to break the tie.

Before this happened, Seth and Gillis met. I don't think their actions were done with malice. Gillis wanted to be the President and Seth didn't want to be reelected, so they reached an agreement that Gillis would be the President and Seth the Vice President. The Court, of course, was furious. On the surface they claimed that the Constitution was being ignored - but in reality their plan to keep Gillis out of the presidency had been circumvented. The Senate was truly furious that Gillis and Seth, in effect, ignored the entire election, constitution, and vote of the Senate. The League was thrown into turmoil. Gillis and Seth quickly backed away from their plan and Seth resigned as the President on September 23.

Because the election was still up in the air, when Seth resigned I, as his Vice President, became the President (confused yet). As per my natural course, I addressed everyone in the League explaining what was going on and that we would wait for the Court to break the tie. When that occurred, I would step aside and whoever the Court selected would become the President. Soon a semblance of calm and order returned to the League.

Gillis, however, knew that he should have won the election - enough Senators had promised to vote for him. He began investigating to find out who didn't live up to their word. Within a few days, he uncovered what had occurred, evidence was quickly produced, and two justices resigned in disgrace. Most important, he uncovered that at 11:59pm on the 19th when the election ended, he had won by one vote. On September 29, 2002, when all of these details had been worked out and certified, Gillis became the President, and I became his Vice President.

Despite the cloud surrounding his election - the fact that when the vote occurred the first time on the 17th he had lost to a man who said he didn't want to be reelected - Gillis entered office like he had won a landslide and threw himself into the job with an energy and vigor not seen for a long time. Of course, energy and vigor is a good thing, don't get me wrong, but he didn't have the political base to get his ideas enacted.

This is where Gillis personality came into sharp focus. He took everything way too personally and he tried to control every last little situation, thought, and statement. Even if a supporter criticized him, he would chew them out in an unpleasant hour long IM. He never learned how to let things bounce off of him, and this was his fatal flaw. Despite his enormous talents, intelligence, dedication, and work ethic, this flaw prevented him from achieving greatness time and time again.

Resentement and resistance to him grew in the League. Frustrated that people weren't listening to him and were opposing his efforts, he became even worse. Because he helped to set up and maintain the League's webserver and message boards, he threatened to shut them down and disband the League because no one was listening to him. In the weeks prior, I had done my best in the League to try to ease tensions and smooth over the problems Gillis had caused, and I tried my best to talk to Gillis and get him to calm down, but after he threatened to destroy the League, there wasn't anything I could do.

By the time I signed on to read Gillis' threat to the League, there were already several calls for his resignation, and I joined in. In the Senate, I called on Gillis to, "Do one decent and honorable act as President - resign."

Gillis did, and resigning on November 12, 2002. Shortly there after, perhaps to get back at me, he joined TOL. (More on that later).

As his Vice President, I once again became the President of the Sim Senate.

My term in office wasn't anything spectacular. I pushed through some constitutional changes and League reforms. For example, the Senate was expanded to include representatives - regular simmers - to try to break the hold of admirals and presidents on the Senate and bring in fresh ideas. The Courts were reformed, making them focus on negotiations and mediation instead of trials. And I worked to clean up the League as it were - dead wood was removed, new Senators and clubs were brought in to replace the inactive ones.

In the March 2003 election, I lost to Truce, the Senator from the FSF. I didn't mind. Truce was a good guy, and his two terms as President were quite successful. I didn't campaign that hard against him, I had no new ideas, and shortly before the election, the Leagues message boards went down. It took a week to get them back up, and I was blamed for the delay, which doomed me in the election. But I did leave the League in better shape then I found it. Even today, the League continues to plug away. It's a remarkable little organization.

 

Chapter 40: Gillis

"Most of the people who don't like me never had a really good reason. Most of the people who have good reasons to hate me don't. Like Shuni. Like you." - Gillis to Chas in an IM, November 25, 2003.

Chas Note: Gillis, I couldn't agree with your quote more. Because truth exists in the middle, I've included this chapter written by Gillis about his time as President of the Simming League. Also, in Chapter 43, I've linked what he wrote about his time in TOL. He, of course, sees things a bit differently.

 

Greetings readers,

Gillis is back once again to rebut a few of the "facts" that Chas has been so kind to recollect. Despite conversations I've had with him before my retirement that cleared up many misconceptions, and his promises that he'd update his memoirs to fix those discrepancies, Chas has saw fit to change his stories to include even more of his insulting and disdainful tone.

See, recently, I retired, due to a change in my life. I got married, and just a few months ago, had my first child. Being a full time grown up, and realizing the simming that I grew up loving was no longer the same, I gave it up. Not many people believed I would, but I don't believe anyone remotely connected to simming has even heard from me since last November.

Well, today I was bored, and decided to check out how Simming.info was doing. Being an original idea of mine that was executed by Chas with much help from my graphical expertise, I figured I'd want to know what's going on with it. So, I check it out, and his memoirs catches my eye. I check it out to see what changes he's made, and I'm appalled.

If you're wondering, I'm referring to my election to the presidency of the Simming League.The way Chas has it written, it's riddled with half-truths and conjecture, mostly shifted to fit Chas' delusional world. I have come to set that straight.

One major joke people have going is that I "lost" to someone who told everyone he didn't want the job. Of course, what most people don't realize about Seth is that he always wants the job...but, his "modesty" is a part of his charm. I remember when I asked him to run as my VP the election before, and he told me that he wasn't sure he wanted to get into politics. A week later, he announced his candidacy for president. Surprise, surprise. In all of this, those who sling the lies leave out one important fact.

For my one month of campaigning allowed before the election, I was nowhere to be found. See, at that time, I was a bachelor living in my own apartment, with one computer. Funds were tight, so buying a bunch of expensive equipment wasn't really feasible. So, when lightning struck, surging my computer to a burnt crisp, I was left without a mode of accessing the Internet. This basically ate up my entire month of campaigning.

One blatant lie by Chas is that when the votes were released early, I "campaigned" to allow the election to go on. Careful study of records would show this to be untrue. No doubt I probably would have done so, but I had not yet gotten access to the Internet back.

Election night, roughly 10 PM, I was at my mother's house. I begged her to use her computer, and she let me. Checking the forums, the first thing I came upon that caught my eye was a reply to Seth's campaign announcement. Goran, a die hard supporter of mine, had posted in support of Seth! Knowing this was BS, I somehow managed to get on AOL Quickbuddy[I say "somehow", because it generally never works for me], and I contact Goran.

I ask him why he's supporting Seth, and he tells me that in my absence, he thought that Chas would take my place in the elections. Basically, he voted for Seth because he preferred Seth to Chas. Letting him know this was not the case, he quickly changed his vote. During the course of this conversation, I did notice the debate on the whole election results thing. With him promising to change his vote, I knew I'd win, despite my month long absence.

So, I signed on the next morning, and I see an abstain vote. I speak with Goran, and he swears up and down that he changed his vote. On the forums, Casteclear, aka SFEFGavic, is speaking of how he "noticed" a vote change at 11:59 PM EST. Considering Gavic was a senator, not privy to election results, changes in election results, or the names of those who voted and for whom, this was odd. Even more suspicious was that SFEF had a justice, SFEFTexmist.

So, this scenario starts to form in my head. A scenario involving someone with an insight into the court process who was willing to share information, and others who would find a Gillis supporter and convince them to change their vote to abstain, sending the vote to the Courts. The Courts, who had three justices. Twistermac, SFEFTexmist, and SLAGarrison. Texmist and Gavic hated me with a passion because of my repeated moves to thwart their attacks on SFC. Garrison, although never proven conclusively[as I decided not to push it], was Seth's subordinate, and I believe, had the biggest hand in this entire thing. With 1/3 of the court against me, and the 1/3 working for my adversary, I was destined to lose. Bringing this to light, things started to get ugly.

This is when Seth approached me. He wished to keep the league from being torn apart, and offered the deal where I was president and he was VP. Actually, his original offer was to make ME VP, and him president. I managed to convince him otherwise, leading me to believe that he was merely trying to appease me before I did uncover the truth. See, one thing you could count on with me...I always uncovered the truth.

We came to the League with this idea, and it was quickly thrown down. The fight kept going, and there was no end in sight. It was then that Goran IMed me, and confessed what really happened.

At 11:59, Goran did INDEED change his vote. Seeing their candidate lose, the Chief Justice[Garrison] quickly mobilized his troops to run in, and convince Goran to change his vote. Put aside the fact that the court justices were strictly prohibited from trying to alter the results of an election. The real injustice was the changed vote they accepted two hours after close of polls.

Goran forwarded me the original emails, complete with time stamps. With this irrefutable evidence, Chas had to step down as president, and I was put in the position that I had earned through an honest campaign. In retaliation to this, I'm sure, Seth decided to pull his group down to Observational membership, removing himself as senator, and Garrison as Chief Justice.

One thing that Seth really tries to push in his history is how the evil Gillis attempted and failed to impeach Garrison. This tactic is used to ensure his members realize that I am the devil, and will not question it. Anyone who was around at the time will tell you differently, though.

It was simple....I didn't want to lose SFEF. Although I had problems with them, and didn't particularly like the new regime that had replaced my good friend Lemax, I put the League first, and put out an olive branch. I vowed not to impeach Texmist for her blatant disregard for the constitution. In doing so, I was prevented from impeaching any other justice involved in the matter, as it would set a precedent for double standards. Garrison was not even though of, as he had resigned his position long before an impeachment was suggested. My impeachment of the justices never failed...I never allowed it to hit the floor.

Given the polarizing nature of this entire event, many of the issues I brought forth soon after my election were met with resistance. Normally, such measures would have gone smoothly, had it not been for the still tender wounds inflicted by the entire scandal.

One pet peeve of mine has always been non-existent clubs in the League. I was a big proponent of small clubs joining the league, don't get me wrong....but, a group of 2 or 3 people who called themselves Admirals and never held a single sim was not a small club. It was a circle jerk. Noticed by myself and my VP Chas, some senators weren't even voting. One most notably was Troy of....I can't even remember the name of the group. Well, Chas sent an email to her asking for her to start posting and voting. She replied with a very insulting email. I then emailed her, asking her nicely to vote. In a fit of immaturity, Troy then came to the boards, and voted no on all the bills presented....simply to spite us for having the audacity to ask her, a senator, to vote. Coming out many times and making it quite blatant, a small debate ensued. At this time, it wasn't a big thing.

It was around this time I received an email from Justin Atherton, my appointed director of the Tournament of Sims. Seems he had contacted her, as he did all the other senators, to inquire about their participation in the event. Her reply to him was that her group had not simmed in many months, and were on hiatus. See, when we created the new constitution, we increased the member requirements...but, in doing so, in order not to kick out current members who were below the new standards, we put in a grandfather clause. Those clubs that were around at the time of the new constitution's ratification needed only to hold a single active sim to retain membership. News of Troy's group ceasing to sim for many months was more than enough for me to exercise my power to remove their voting rights.

I made one small mistake, though. As I had been involved in the League for years, I didn't make it much practice to constantly cross reference the constitution, as most of it was easily remembered. In the old constitution, failing to meet member standards would move you to Provisional Membership. In the new constitution, you simply lost voting rights. In practice, both were basically the same thing, with the exception that a Prov Member would need to be voted back in. Making this verbal mistake, I was quickly corrected on it, and quickly accused of intentionally violating the constitution by my rivals.

So, to calm things down, I decided to give Troy a chance. It was far within my powers to remove her voting rights then...I had an irrefutable confession by her that she was in violation. But, being nice, and not wanting to cause more strife, I agreed to give her a chance to hold ONE sim. This failed utterly.

I came to the boards, and was about to announce her removal. This is when another swath of crap came at me. I crumbled again, and decided to give her yet ANOTHER chance. I showed up to this sim, and they had maybe three or four people there. Contacting them in IM, they freely admitted to not being real members of her group. Afterwards, I got yet another stream of crap, and I turned to a friend of mine.

FSFJFerguson, a relatively new face to the League, was a recently confirmed justice to the Courts. Speaking with him, I began to vent. Not knowing me quite that well, he took some of that venting seriously. Most damning was my statement about "I can't take this anymore. Maybe I should just delete the forums, and disband the League, and be rid of it all." Anyone who knew me would know this was just venting, and I'd be alright by the next day. I'd never do such a thing to the League. Hell, for years I held the power to do such a thing...years later, buying half stock in the company that hosted them for free, I had the power once again to do it...but I never did. I'm not that type of person.

Well, Ferguson, not knowing I was venting, came to the forums, and posted this log. I logged on to find all these calls for my resignation. It was at this time that I reflected upon my career in the League. How I had spent more years in service to the League than most of it's members had been simming. About how the only person who could claim to have put more time and resources into the League was Chas himself. How in all these years, I never saw a good thing come out of the League. About how certain power clubs...*cough*FSF*cough*.....managed to gobble up the resources of any kind that we sent to the league for it's programs. So, seeing how my hard work, and Chas' hard work, had been years down the drain...a practice in futility...I decided to resign, and remove my club from the league for the last time.

I stayed with the league for some time though, through my Directorship of RoleplayerUSA. Up until when Mike decided to retire. It turned out that Mike had been coerced by Chas into signing a contract that gave Chas and the SL exclusive ownership to RPUSA when he retired. Thing was, Mike didn't have exclusive ownership of RPUSA in the first place, so the contract was illegal. He signed it without informing the other half, me. After me confronting him, he signed over RolePlayerUSA, and all it's properties and rights, to me. It was at this time that Chas broke off the long lived partnership with RPUSA...and, overnight, the forums were moved to the FSF server.

So...that's my story.

 

Chapter 41: Vid

"I only hope that we can live up to your expectations, and to at least one day come close to filling the shoes Chas has left for us. I am very honored that you all felt confident in my ability enough to vote me and my partner into office. We will do our best to make this club stay where she's at." - AdmVidiotTOL, in his first monthly club address to the club in the TOL Times, November 2, 2001.

My second retirement worked out better, at least for a while. Instead of running the club up to the last day, I gradually turned control over to Vid. Yes, there was a small chance he would lose the election, but Vid was popular, he was my appointed successor, and every TOL election had been a landslide, so I didn't worry.

Almost immediately after I made my announcement on August 31, 2001, I met with Vid every few days and told him what had occurred in the club. That way, when he took over, he would be in the loop and have several months of background info. During September, I started to turn tasks over to Vid, and I began to direct people with basic questions to him for an answer. By October, I had the captains regularly reporting to him. I was there in the background to help him out and give him advise when I though it was needed. Had a crises occurred, I would have been there to step in, but lucky there were no surprises.

By the time the election came around on October 20, 2001, Vid was already running the club. For the record, Vid won, capturing 73% of the vote, against Ditto, the captain of the Endeavor, who received 16% of the vote. Even though I wasn't running, I still got 11% of the vote.

But, I soon made the same stupid mistake - I disappeared from TOL. This time, I didn't intend to, I just became caught up in real life. Not having to sign online to run a club (or even a sim - I left the Vindi and put Carrie, a good friend of mine, in command), I became lazy and didn't pay much attention to the club or sign on as much. When I was online, so many things were happening in the Simming League that I spent most of my time over there. Had I been around, I could have helped Vid and provided advise. But I don't think he would have listened anyway. He never sought me out, and I know by this point in time he just didn't like me. Still, had I stayed around, I would have maintained my connections, and I would have maintained a presence in the club, and that could have helped me down the road - but I didn't plan on returning so I didn't bother.

Even a simple phone call could have made a difference. During the spring and summer of 2001, we mentioned the possibility of calling each other or even meeting in person. But it never panned out. Online I come across as rough, direct, and arrogant, but when I talk to someone from the club over the phone they're surprised I'm totally different - I'm nice and reasonable! Just the simple inflection of a voice can make a difference and fill my words on the screen with a new tone.

Looking back at the IM logs and chats, it's clear that by July and August of 2001, Vid was starting to become short with me, but at the time I didn't notice it. I think somewhere during those months, the combination of my directness, how I ignored him for 6 months after I returned, how even after I made him the VP I continued to rely on my old core, and the fact we had no real common interests outside of simming and Star Trek, caused Vid to end up not liking me. I fear I made him feel inferior, and not a part of TOL. But he was my Vice President, and given my history with Vice Presidents, that means a lot. I trusted him and valued him. I always felt he was a great simmer and captain and possessed amazing talent. His vision, drive and love of simming, was, quite frankly, unlike anything I had seen since myself. To be blunt about it, TOL needed another Chas to keep it running, and I thought Vid was that person. I just never successfully conveyed that to him. I was hard on him because I saw greatness in him, but I never told him. That's my fault.

Any glimmer of hope for the two of us working together disappeared quickly when I returned out of the blue to intervene in club affairs.

During my second Presidency, Clodo and Robin served as the club's webmasters. They retired in the fall of 2001, and Will, the captain of the Generation, took over as the webmaster. For the first month or so after Vid became the President, I tried to work with Will on updating the website. However, he was a disaster. I would E-mail him things 5, 6, or 7 times, and he would lose my E-mails, forget, or simply not do the work! After a few months, the site was starting to suffer. Links were broken and info was out of date.

I talked to Vid, I talked to Will, and I talked to Clodo. I was sure we could find someone in the club who was a more responsible programmer, and in the mean time, Clodo was willing to return to run the site. It looked like everything was going to go smoothly - Will would step aside and Clodo would return - when Vid suddenly, unexplainable change his mind and decreed that Will would stay. And so, Will stayed on as TOLs webmaster till the end of 2003. He stayed on for two long, critical years during which the simming world transformed itself and became based on the internet. Clubs needed a strong internet presence to survive, and with Will as our webmaster, our internet presence was pathetic at best.

I don't know why Vid suddenly changed his mind. Perhaps Will talked to him and promised to do better if he was given another chance? Perhaps Vid just got upset that I was flexing my mussels and replacing his web chief with someone from my old core. I should have handled it differently and not have taken charge and forced Clodo upon him. I should have told Vid I was having problems and let him make a decision, but after being the President for so long it was hard to let go of my old ways.

To make matters worse, Vid always hated politics and didn't like the constitution or the republic. He wanted to do things in private. He didn't see the value of discussion and debate and laws. So instead of an open political process where the Assembly passed bills and debated in public, he created a private E-mail string for the Assembly. He would keep the Assembly updated on what he was doing, they would give him advise, and he would create some general consensus if there was a big decision to be made. If no one complained too loudly, he would go forward. But there wasn't much formal voting or law making.

In retrospect, there wasn't anything wrong with his approach - he allowed people to have a voice - and I should have been more willing to let Vid to develop the government as best suited him. I should have worked with him behind the scenes to develop a new, simpler constitution that kept in place the important elements that kept the club running smoothly and prevented civil wars, but that molded the system to his style. However, I had become too attached to my creation. Instead of working with him, I complained that the Assembly wasn't being used. Vid grudgingly started to hold public Assembly meetings and conduct votes, and he hated it. Once again, Vid viewed me as trying to control him, when it really was just another instance of my inability to let go.

Vid felt threatened by me, and I felt slighted that he wasn't reaching out to me for advise.

As the club moved into 2002, I had disappeared from the scene because I was busy in real life, and I didn't pay any attention to the club because it had remained stable and peaceful. Vid was doing a good job as President. Attendance was good, and everyone was having fun. New captains and simmers were making their mark. New cultural features and inside jokes were added to the collection of MIBs and smite buttons, and Vid expanded TOLs simming into new areas - civilian ships, medical sims, JAG sims, etc.

In choosing Vid as my successor, I picked a capable administrator. He embodied TOL's spirit of fun, creativity, and community. I, after all, worked to bring his sim into TOL because it harkened back to the spirit of those random, just for the fun of it sims on Prodigy that TOL was built upon. The great tragedy was that Vid and I didn't get along.

However, things changed in Vid's second term. He was reelected in April of 2002, but by that time his wife was pregnant. He thought he would have enough time for simming and the baby when it arrived, but he didn't. In his absence - once again in the absence of a strong president - the club began to fall apart. Paperwork went unattended, questions unanswered, captains began to fly off onto their own tangents, people began to leave the club, recruiting diminished, the club didn't have a viable internet presence to attract new people, and Vid became increasingly reliant on mergers to make up for the short fall. I'm not faulting him, don't get me wrong, his family is far more important then simming, but he should have retired from the Presidency or delegated his duties to compensate for his lack of time.

Being in retirement and out of touch, I had no sense that there were major problems in the club during Vid's second term. It was only in the fall of 2002, after I had been retired for a year, that I felt an itch to sim and started to poke around the club. I quickly realized how bad things had become.

In October of 2002, Vid wisely decided not to seek reelection. Penny, a long time admiral in TOL, was elected President. On the surface, Penny had a stellar resume. She had commanded several sims, was the academy commandant, and had served the club with distinction for several years. I volunteered to help her where necessary and she gladly accepted.

The situation in the club was bad, but it could have been easily fixed. TOL was down to 65 members. Some sims had low attendance, a few were kept alive by the same core of admirals who seemed to comprise multiple crews, new recruits didn't receive any guidance and quickly left, captains were scattered, and communication was spotty. Like the situation in May 2000, the club just needed some strong leadership, a little work, and new blood to get it back on its feet. We also needed a club that was able to look at itself in the mirror, realize there were problems, and be willing to debate and fix them.

However, what we had was Penny - who I thought was too nice to make a decision; a culture and set of captains that, thanks to Vid, didn't like debate or see the value of a republic; and an Assembly filled with dead wood and old timers who would lose their seats if any changes occurred. To top it off, we had Vid who didn't like me, a whole generation of captains and simmers who didn't know who I was and who were loyal to Vid, and my unfortunate tendency to be blunt, just show up, and take over. All of the conditions for a major explosion were in place, it just needed a spark.

 

Chapter 42: The Wisdom of the Court

"Let me get this straight... we have an Assembly to debate, but when we have an actual debate for once the club must be falling apart or being damaged somehow? TOL is stronger than that." - AdmChasTOL, to the Assembly. November 12, 2002.

Fate quickly provided the spark.

The first week of Penny's Presidency seemed promising. She persuaded people to stay in the club or return, and one of her first acts was to nominate me as a Court Justice. It would have been a good role for me. After all, as Penny explained, I wrote the constitution, and would be able to provide advise and answers about the government.

The Assembly met by message board and had 2 weeks to cast their votes. At first, the Assembly agreed, praised me, and began to vote me in as a justice. Then things took a drastic turn for the worst. On November 12, word reached the Court that Carrie, a long time captain, was being stalked and harassed in real life by a popular club member named CJ. Carrie was so afraid that she had gone to the police, at which point TOL law and precedent was clear. This was a serious real life matter, and all of our sim government was just a game. Whenever we had similar problems in the past, the President had discretion to remove the person from the club without a trial.

The vote in the Assembly to make me a justice wasn't complete, but seeing how I was close to being approved, I met with the Court (not as a Justice, but as an advisor) and explained that in such a situation the Court was allowed to remove the person from the club without a trial. Plus it would have been very foolish for us to have a sim trial and force Carrie to testify in front of CJ about how she felt and that she had gone to the police. Nothing could have been more dangerous or stupid.

But to my absolute shock and horror, the justices didn't agree with me. In fact, they didn't even believe me. I don't know what happened in the year I was gone. The justices were all good people, but they must have hard some horror stories about me or something because they all honestly felt that because Carrie was my friend - was part of my old core - that I was willing to break all of the rules for her, and that I must have been out to get CJ - one of Vid's friends - for some reason or another. So, the justices decided to hold a trial. Carrie and CJ were brought into a chat room, and in front of everyone, Carrie had to explain the situation and listen to CJ belittle her and say it wasn't true.

The trial took a major emotional toll on Carrie, and half way through she ran away. I, and others, tried calling her, but no response. She literally ran away, and for a day, no one, not even her roommate, knew where she went. Luckily, she eventually turned up safe - she just had to get away from everything.

But while she was gone and no one knew what happened, I was livid. I started to call the justices all kinds of choice words and I called for their impeachment on the grounds they were complete idiots. Luckily, in their infinite wisdom, the justices agreed that CJ should be expelled from the club, and so did Penny and Vid. I told Penny and Vid to address the club to explain why CJ had been expelled, but they never did. As a result, rumors began to fly that I had forced them to kick out CJ (a popular club member); that Penny was a puppet of mine; that I had no respect for the Justices (this was true); that I just wanted to return and be a dictator, etc, etc, etc.

In very short order, just about everyone changed their vote to no, made speeches saying that I was no longer fit to hold a leadership position in the club, and that I should leave.

Now, up to that point in time, I had been nice. I felt the best way to fix the club's problems was to return and offer my services and advise. But that path had been rejected by the members, so I decided to speak my mind.

Attendance was dismal. Leadership was non existent. Discipline was all but gone. It was routine for sims to start an hour late - and none of the captains seemed to care or understand this was a problem. The sims had descended into mindless blow them up action adventures that were so sloppy and poorly executed that I was embarrassed to have the TOL name was attached to them. Someone needed to tell it how it was and needed to kick people into shape.

I made a series of speeches in the Assembly in which I said what I felt was wrong with the club. As far as I am concerned, my criticism was very tame and professional. It was, in fact, no different from the type of criticism I gave my captains when I ran the club. If they weren't doing their jobs, I would let them know. The entire club wasn't doing its job, so I let everyone know. I was professional, I didn't call anyone a name, I didn't make wild accusations, I backed everything up with evidence and explained as best as I could why it was a problem. And the universal response was that I was a parent who couldn't let go and that the problems weren't that bad, but that criticism was bad and anti TOL.

Vid's neglect of the Assembly caused TOL to become sensitive of debate. In my day, we had debates in the Assembly that made other clubs think that TOL was on the verge of collapse, but everyone in TOL understood it was just a debate and didn't take it personally. Well, everyone this time took it personally. TOL had become another sim club where debate was feared because it was viewed as a weakness. As a result, so many problems had grown in TOL and no one was willing to speak up about them. Plus, most of the people from my day had long since retired, so there was no memory of how things used to be and how far we had fallen. One would think Penny and Vid knew the truth, but Vid couldn't admit it because he caused it, and Penny didn't have the courage to speak up.

Frustrated, in private I said, "TOL is rotten, and soon it will die." Word of what I said spread, and that sealed my fate as the most hated person in the club.

So yes, I lost it and I messed up. I should have held my tongue. I should have framed my criticisms in a more positive light. But I was deeply hurt. I had given 5 years of my life to the club, and to see people run the club - all of my hard work - into the ground and not even care or think it was a problem, was just too much for me to take. A lot of me was in that club and it was as if I was seeing myself being pulled down. If the club was doing well, or if I was out of touch I would have admitted it, but that was not the case. TOL was down right awful and no one was doing anything about it.

My first instinct was to keep on fighting. However, memories of my experiences with NFO kept on dancing around my head, so if the club felt I was old, out of touch, and didn't want me around, I decided it was best to disappear into the background.

 

Chapter 43: Working Behind the Scenes

Chas - :::while Angel is happely walking along, a canoe falls out of the sky onto her:::

Angel - ::stops and rubs her head, confused:: Do I dare ask why there is a canoe here?

Clodo - I'm curious as well... let's, uh, back away from Chas :::takes steps back away from him:::

-From a series of New Horizons Lounge message board posts, March 2003.

Defeated politically and unable to push for any major reforms, I disappeared to the background, confining myself to just helping out Penny and the club where I could. When I found that the club guidebook had been reduced to a poorly written short e-mail, I wrote a new guidebook and turned it into a pdf file complete with graphics. When I found that no one had bothered to update the welcome letters for months, causing cadets to be sent letters that assigned to captains who were no longer captains and to a sim time that no longer was correct, I updated them.

I was just totally besides myself, and writing about it now I still am. I just cannot believe the club slid that far. Things just completely stopped. Vid lost control during his second term and that was clearly born out by those documents. Everything was frozen in time. Nate, his VP, did not step up to help. Penny, who was the academy commandant at the time, apparently never thought, "Humm, no one has told me, but I know that sim has a new captain, I better update the letter."

The collapse that occurred in TOL between the spring of 2002 and accelerated under Penny into the spring of 2003 was total. Very few people were recruited into the club, and those who did join were greeted by sloppy letters, directed to the wrong places, and found a club that was a mess.

Most of the junior and midlevel simmers left, and most of the old timers had left as well. As a result, there was no new blood in the club, and there was very little institutional memory left - people who remembered how the club was back in 1999 and 2000 and 2001, and thus would have had the prospective to realize that there was a vast problem didn't exist. The few old timers left were the captains and admirals like Vid and Penny, and they proved unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

What was left in the club was an odd assortment commanders and a few officers who, for whatever reason, decided to stay put, and an ever changing cast of people who just flowed in and out of the club. The club had at most 50 members supporting a dozen sims.

To make matters worse, Star Trek was declining in popularity. DS9 and Voyager were bad, Enterprise was horrible. There were fewer Star Trek fans to recruit into the club in the first place.

But there was hope, for there were several very talented captains who represented a bright future for TOL. Against all odds, they kept their sims running. In most cases it was raw talent. With a proper president who could whip them into shape, get them to start simming on time, and teach them what paperwork they needed to do to improve attendance and retain recruits, they could have been great, and TOL could have become great once again. Only if they had taken initiative. Only if one of them had ran for the Presidency.

But they did not because TOL had become just another club - where it was all about seniority and chain of command and following orders and not taking initiative and not speaking up. It was a club where someone like me was woefully out of place.

Because I was reviled, I limited the number of people I talked to and didn't dare appear at any sims or post on the message boards. I figured my skills and experience would compensate for the lack of real time information, but I was wrong. People knew I was advising and helping Penny, but the only problem was that Penny hardly ever listen to my advise. When she made an unpopular decision, she would blame me, even if I had nothing to do with it. Because I was cut off from the club, I had no idea this was going on.

To compound matters for TOL, as it turned out, earlier fears that she was too nice to make a decision were correct, but in a horribly mutated way. In an attempt to please everyone, she would do whatever the last person who complained to her wanted, until someone else complained. She acted nice, but all the while she would do everything she could to hold onto power. She would shift blame, saying it was my fault or someone else's fault. She would undercut any captain she thought to be a threat, and she surrounded herself with incompetent individuals to make sure no one got the better of her.

For all practical purposes, the club had already destroyed itself. All it needed was someone to push it over the edge...

Enter Ben and Gillis. In early January 2003, the screen name Forum Ally reappeared and began to harass club members and attack sims. Penny and her gang freaked and had no idea what to do. I was away on vacation at the time, which is probably why Ben decided to attack. He had learned his lesson years ago and didn't dare mess with me or the club while I was around. But now that I was marginalized, away from my computer on vacation, and with the club a complete mess, it was the perfect time for him to attack. All TOL really needed was a slight push and it probably would have collapsed. Ben realized this and ceased the moment to get his long delayed revenge.

Luckily for TOL, Gillis had joined the club in November - right after he resigned as the President of the Simming League. Perhaps his way of getting back at me was joining TOL, bugging me there, and seeing how many peoples buttons he could push.

Gillis, as always, proved to be a great simmer, but he could never control his anger and the seething contempt he felt towards most people. His arrogance was even more spectacular than my own. He would bagger people in sims, IMs, and on the message boards. He acted like he owned the club and would chew people out for the smallest infractions. Sometimes, he would yell at people for 15 minutes, sending them IM after IM. But for some reason, he became friendly with Amy and Carrie... fate was just working against me I suppose. He was seen arm in arm with two of my friends, plus, he was from the Simming League, which was my organization. For that reason, everyone thought Gillis was my friend too, and a lot of what he did was blamed on me.

Of course, Gillis and I were enemies, but we had common ground. We both saw the importance of the Simming League, and we realized the need to keep Ben under control. For those two reasons, we had a sort of understanding and were able to cut deals when it involved the League or Ben.

For that reason, when Ben attacked, Gillis didn't waste any time. He knew about TOLs earlier history with Forum Ally, and he quickly came to realize that this Forum Ally was nothing like the one from 1997. If anything, he strongly resembled Ben.

Gillis hatched a brilliant plot. He created the screen name Uridien1 - which the real Uridien1 had deleted years ago - and used it to contact Forum Ally. Pretending to be Uridien1, Gillis yelled at Forum Ally and chewed him out for stealing his name and identity. Ben apologized and revealed that it was Ben. Gillis then revealed his plot and told Ben it was Gillis and he got him again. Sufficiently humbled, Ben stopped the attacks and disappeared once more.

I returned from vacation and when I found out what happened, I asked Penny to decorate Gillis. He deserved it. But Penny refused, and given Gillis stellar personality, rumors were already swurling that he was Uridien1 from history, and that he and Ben were working together to destroy TOL.

This belief was enough to cause several of the captains - the same ones who I felt had great potential - to decide to take initiative. They brought Gillis up on a number of changes, from being Uridien1 to harassing club members. When I pointed out that Gillis wasn't Uridien1 from history, and that he wasn't working with Ben, those charges were dropped, but the other assorted charges remained and had they been perused Gillis probably - rightfully - would have been punished and maybe even expelled from the club.

However, our wonderful Justices and President shined once again. Some of the evidence consisted of IM logs between Penny and Gillis. As a result (probably looking for a way to not have to confront Gillis) Penny argued that because she was a witness in the case, she was therefore constitutionally barred from punishing Gillis. The Justices agreed with this line of reasoning and the case went no where. Despite my screaming and yelling that such logic was totally stupid and there was no such bar - just about everyone - knowing that I was the constitutional expert, and knowing that I was advising Penny, and knowing that I had gotten some of the charges against Gillis dismissed - figured I must have put a stop to the case. Fate was against me and I was being stupid. I either should have retired and stayed out of the club, or I should have returned and jumped into the middle of everything. Had I stayed retired, I wouldn't have been dragged down. Had I jumped back into full duty, I would have realized what was going on, and I would have defended myself and done everything in my power to get rid of Penny, Gillis, and several others. However, I thought I was the expert after all my years in simming and I didn't need to know all the detials. I could just fill in the blanks, and my skills and experience would make up for the hard work that's required to save a sim club. How wrong I was.

Gillis continued on in TOL, causing more headaches and getting into fights with nearly everyone in the club, and helping to push TOL over the edge. If I could have kicked him out of TOL, I would have. He was a pain in everyones side. But I had no power, Penny didn't listen to me and wouldn't take any action, and the Courts didn't believe me. The only thing that stopped Gillis - amazingly - was the Assembly. The only time they went against Penny was when she proposed to promote Gillis to captain and put him in command of a sim. The Assembly, almost unanimously, voted no. But even after that, Gillis continued, and everyone thought I was protecting him. The entire situation with him was just one more thing that helped to break the camels back. (If you want to read Gillis side of the story, please click here.)

Yet, in the middle of all of this, one of the captains, Mac, IMed me and more or less said, "I respect you, and many in the club respect you, they just don't like the fact that you are criticizing the club and not helping it out."

He gave me some good advise and I thought about what he said. As a result, I decided to throw myself back into the club and run a sim. I revived my New Horizons sim idea, and I went out and recruited a crew. In a short time, I had 15 crew members. New Horizons began simming in March of 2003, and NH quickly became the most popular sim in the club. It had the highest attendance in TOL, and instead of mindless blow them up plots that had become standard fair in TOL, we had complex plots that took advantage of the open New Horizons model. It was a major fight in the Assembly to get New Horizons approved. People didn't want me back in command of a sim, and wondered if I could still do the job. It was only after I went out on my own and started up NH in February 2003 that people gave in and voted to make NH a TOL sim.

Remember, with New Horizons, there was no set ship, background, etc. Every week, it was something new. In one sim, I set it up so that we were a cloaked Romulan ship that suffered an accident and exploded. As soon as the explosion occurred, I shifted the scene to the bridge of a Federation starship in the area that detected the explosion. I was worried how it would work, but the simmers picked up on it immediately and went with it.

For New Horizons I also created a web page and set up a Yahoo Groups to show the club all of the internet tools we had at our disposal, and how we needed them to compete in the new era.

New Horizons showed that I still had it. I was not old or out of touch as some had claimed. I could still organize a sim in short order and make it great. I showed that with a little work, there was hope for TOL. With proper leadership, the simmers were capable of more then mindless battles. With proper leadership, you could get high attendance at your sim week after week. This, of course, didn't endear me to Will, Penny, Nate (Vids old VP, who was planning to run for President), and the others in the club who held onto power by keeping down competence. It shone light on them and showed that TOL could be better and how to do it.

It was March of 2003 and there was still hope for TOL. We had 50 or so members. We still had several good captains and people with potential. With hard work and the proper cutting of dead wood, we could build a new core and revive TOL. I was now fully involved. I was starting to get a sense of what was going on around me. I just needed time to fully understand all of the forces at work in TOL.

But fate once again conspired against me. In April of 2003, we held presidential elections and my luck ran out. During my entire simming career, I had been lucky and was able to survive wars, mistakes, and the rest. TOL had declined far, but I was back in command of a sim and as a captain I was in a far better position to help. I didn't want to return to run TOL, I just wanted to help, to show people how great things used to be and what needed to be done. I knew that with a little time, I could redeem myself, talk to people, get my side of the story out, and show people what I had to offer. It just didn't work out that way.

 

Chapter 44: The Mutiny

"Due to several personal, and not so personal reasons I do hearby Tender my Resignation as Vice President and a member of this club. I will not give reason or excuses other then this is my decision. To those of you who have supported me in the last few years, I thank you most graciously and wish you luck on your way and continued simming exhistance." - AdmVidiotTOL, his resignation letter to the club, April 21, 2003.

In the weeks before the April 2003 election, I talked with several club members, and the consensus was pretty much universal. Things were bad, but there was hope. Penny was a horrible President, but the person running against her, Nate, was even worse. Nate was a moocher. He had only risen to the heights he had in TOL by being Vid's friend, only to suffer a spectacular falling out with Vid. Nate was also very narrow minded and didn't posses any leadership or administrative skills - but neither did Penny.

In 2001, because Nate was going to be Vid's Vice President, I invited Nate to sit in on meetings where Vid and I went through a whole list of things going on in the club and I communicated to Vid everything people had told me over the last few days. All of this was designed so that when Vid took over the club, he would be aware of the issues.

I know there are a few crazy simmers out there who would have loved to be involved in such meetings, to see the inner workings of the club first hand. However, Nate found everything to be a totally futile exercise. He didn't think that I as the President should be concerned with day to day matters. Clearly, Nate was not presidential material. To top it off, he once flat out told me, "I do not like you, so I don't listen to anything you say." Apparently he wasn't the only in the club who felt that way.

In any event, Nate lost the election badly and Penny was reelected. The only people who had voted for Nate were a few captains - the very captains that I felt represented TOLs greatest hope. They weren't voting for Nate as much as they were voting against Penny. They were fed up with Penny's leadership, her attempts to under cut them, and the fact time and time again she refused to listen to their advise and let them help the club. Unknown to me, in the background, they had been busily working with Penny and pushing her to make changes. But, since TOL was now just like any other club, they didn't come out in public as I had done, and with Nate being a Vice Admiral, he was the next in line to run for the Presidency. None of the other captains thought about challenging Penny, it wasn't their place. I had asked them to run, but they would not hear of it because it was Nate's turn to run. "Maybe next time" was the universal reply.

If any one of them had ran, they would have defeated Penny. But it was Nate who ran, and no one in the club liked him, so he lost. But still, Nate didn't even try to win. The campaign was non existent, and because debate is somehow bad, there wasn't any. Penny's complete failing as the President went unaddressed.

So, upon her reelection, what did the captains do? Well, with the constitution, debates, the Assembly, elections, running for office, and fielding competent candidates totally unacceptable to them, they decided to mutiny. In other words, they were so afraid of debate in a sim club that they decided it was better to mutiny then to discuss the problems in open!

So, you can only imagine what I did when I signed on and I found out that Vid and several of the captains were in the process of forcing Penny out as the President and arrangements were being made for Vid, as the VP, to take over - all days after Penny had been reelected. I called it a mutiny. I didn't like Penny, I didn't think she was cut out to be the President, but I wasn't going to allow a mutiny.

I E-mailed the club, explained the situation, and called it a mutiny. This, of course, didn't go over too well with Vid and the conspiring captains, all of whom promptly left the club on April 21, 2003, and took their ships and crews with them to form their own club called the Rogue Fleet Simulation Group.

As soon as I sent out the E-mail, I knew it was a mistake. I signed online, heard the news, typed up the E-mail, and sent it. I didn't think. I didn't take time to talk to people. I didn't investigate the matter. For a year and a half relations between Vid and myself were strained. The club had fallen apart and no one seemed to care. I was fed up that people rejected all of the channels available to them and decided to mutiny. Had I known they had been working the background with Penny to make changes and she under cut them, had I known that Penny was blaming me for all of the problems, had I taken some time to think and realized I was being very hypocritical in criticizing Vid for getting Penny step down and return as the President, I would have supported Vid.

But, just as much as I was at fault, Vid shares some of the blame. Before I sent the E-mail, I did IM him and ask him what was going on. He became upset and told me that it had been a mistake for him to have stepped aside in 2002, so he was taking the club back. (Can you imagine the reaction had I said it was a mistake for me to step aside in 2001, so I was taking the club back?) Both of us quickly became enraged, and I sent out the E-mail before Vid could announce he was the President. In that final moment, all of the years of tension and animosity between us broke and it became a race to deny the other the club we both loved so much.

With that, TOL was shattered. I and others made frantic attempts over the next few weeks to patch things back together. I made pubic and private appeals and apologies, and so did many others, but it was too late.

The apologies, appeals, and subsequent debates and explanations as both sides tried to explain their positions did produce some good. As all debates end up doing, they got everyone talking. Hard feelings were reduced and the captains who left came to realize that I really knew what I was talking about and that I really wasn't all that arrogant. Only if they had listened to my advise earlier they said. In the end, several of the people who left expressed to me that they no longer hated me, but they had already set their course with Vid, and it was too late to return to TOL. Perhaps if Vid had set an example and returned, they would have returned as well. But Vid's ill feelings towards me had only grown stronger, and the last thing he was going to do was return. He was fed up with me, with Penny, and with Gillis running around getting into fights with everyone.

The debates made me realize, for the first time, why people resented me so much. People didn't like my attitude of criticism and they saw me as bent on returning and controlling the club. I also finally began to realize that Penny blamed almost everything on me, and I learned that the captains were as frustrated as I was. They had worked behind the scenes with Penny, but were rebuffed and undercut. Because they incorrectly felt I was supporting Penny, because they felt I had bent the rules to kick out CJ and help keep Gillis in TOL, and that the republic was my creation, they would find no relief in elections or the Assembly. They felt they had no choice but to kick out Penny. When I seemingly rushed to Penny's rescue and condemned Vid, it only reinforced everything, and they had no choice but to leave.

Only if we had more time... without the split, these same discussions would have occured over weeks and months, and I know the outcome would have been the same. Everyone would have realized their falts, everyone would have gained new understanding. Feelings would have been smoothed out and people would have started to work together. We just ran out of time.

In the end, what we had was a failure to communicate. I am convinced the universe has a sense of irony, because from day one, TOL was founded upon the idea that communication would solve everything and make the club great. Communication in the form of logs, guidebooks, and newsletters. Communication in the form of community and republic.

With the lack of communication, Penny was able to play everyone for suckers. They believed it when she told them that I was at fault, and my actions reinforced her words as the truth. I believed it when she told me the captains just weren't up to the job, and the state of their sims and their statements that starting a sim an hour late wasn't a problem just reinforced her words as the truth.

I am confident had Trek Online continued to embrace communication after I retired from the Presidency in 2001, the club would still be alive today. But the club lost its way. It became afraid to communicate, and combined with failed leadership on my part, and from Vid, Penny, and the captains, it died.

 

Chapter 45: Jellybeans Forever

AdmChasTOL: CEO> Crud, I warned them about this :::my engineers charge forward, dodging jelly beans in an attempt to pull the plug, several are hit and go down:::

AdmChasTOL: =/\= CEO> CMO> Medical emergency in main engineering :::dives at the plug and pulls it out of the wall:::

RearAdPBTOL: ((god save the jelly bean))

AdmVidiotTOL: [CO]::Tapps::[CEO] Bridge to engineering? What in blue blazes is going on down. there?

AdmChasTOL: =/\= CEO> CO> The jelly bean we bought from that Ferangi merchant who seemed... well... a little off? It went on the fritz, shot out jelly beans and damaged some controls.

VivianaLazzara: CMO> ::charges into eng:: Where's the emergency!

AdmChasTOL: CEO> CMO> Oh, doctor, good :::points at engineers on the floor with jelly beans imbedded in them:::

ElRiov trIdrys: XO/Tac > NOIP > Never trust a Ferengi with jelly beans.

-A scene from one of the last TOL sims ever held, everyone back together, having fun on the USS Challenger, June 7, 2004.

Going into May of 2003, all that was left of TOL were a handful of sims and simmers. Our most promising captains and simmers had left the club - either to follow Vid, or just to get away from the mess that was TOL. What was left were very old timers like myself, Penny, Matt, Amy, and Carrie, and a handful of people who decided to stick around. The only sim at the time that was simming was New Horizons, although Penny managed to reenergize her sim, the Challenger, and Matt, upon hearing the news of the mutiny, returned to rebuild the Endeavor.

At the time of the mutiny, I had only been active as a captain for about a month. During the fall and winter, it seemed to me that Penny was trying to do a good job and that the problems in TOL were beyond her skills. It never once occurred to me that she was cold and calculating, that she was playing mind games and shifting blame between myself and others to avoid reality. However, after talking to those who had left, I quickly began to realize that was really going on. I understood why the captains had revolted and I wished I had supported them.

Penny loved power. Her goal was to remain in power for as long as possible even if the club had to be destroyed in the process. She had no leadership abilities, so what she did was to play mind games with people. Nothing was ever her fault. People tried to help her, but she just blamed them for the problems. If things became too difficult for her - if she was in a position where her games weren't working or where she had to make a decision and couldn't put it off any longer - she would say she wasn't feeling well and sign off.

Despite all of my stubbornness, I do learn from my mistakes. It was clear that TOL needed major structural reforms. The republic and constitution as it existed had to go. During May and June, I worked with Penny and Matt (because the three of us were the only ones with sims running), to draft a new constitution for the club. Language was streamlined and many of the detailed requirements were eliminated. That way, the important elements were kept in place, but each President would be free to structure the government how he or she wished.

The court system was eliminated. The courts and justices had failed the club time and time again, so we decided to do away with them. We returned to the old simple system first outlined in the Members Rights Document in 1997 - the president or captain would give out a punishment, the person could appeal and a group of people would hear the appeal. Robin had been right, the courts turned out to be a pressure cooker. I just wish I had listened to her warnings about the courts in 1998. The cost to TOL was tremendous. Because of the courts, we had two fiascoes - with CJ and Gillis - that directly contributed to the downfall of TOL.

Secondly, the Presidency became more parliamentary. At any time, the Assembly could call for new elections, and at any time the President could retire and hold new elections. This was designed to eliminate the burdens Robin and Vid felt - that despite the circumstances, they had to stay on and finish out their term, and eliminate the desperation the captains had felt when thinking they had to put up with Penny for another term.

I still feel strongly about the need for some sort of republican system in simming. People should have a voice in their club. There should be elections and a council of some kind. There should be a written document that keeps everyone on the same page. History has proven these needs and today many clubs have constitutions, elections, and councils to varying degrees. Trek Online set off a powerful revolution that changed how clubs govern themselves, but in the end I became too attached to my particular way of doing things. I squashed attempts by Vid and the captains and others to try it their own way, with disastrous consequences.

At the same time the constitution was being drafted and enacted, I tried to work with Penny to rebuild the club. To help rebuild the website - parts of which said it was the year 2002 and Vid was the President - I lined up people in the Simming League to help build a new site for TOL. But once again, Will would not go, and Penny refused to fire him.

I also tried to update the guidebook, help recruit new simmers and captains. I tried to help rebuild the academy, and I even offered to run it, but Penny shot me down and ordered me to stop.

By July, I was completely fed up. Penny was incapable of saving the club and was standing in the way of people who had tried to save it. To give TOL a fighting chance at survival, she had to go. I only wish I had realized this in March or April. I asked her to resign, I begged her to resign, I called on her in public to resign, asking her to do one good thing as the President - resign. Finally, under the new constitution, I made a motion to hold new elections. But the Assembly was filled with her people, and it was rejected. That was my one great constitutional mistake I never corrected. In the 2000 constitution, we did away with Assembly elections. Anyone who wanted to be a member could become one as long as there was an open seat. At the time, we felt this would be more democratic and easier since pulling off elections on over a dozen different ships was time-consuming.

However, when a person ended up in the Assembly, it became impossible to get rid of them. Even if they stopped simming long ago, they remained in their seat, becoming dead wood that stopped all reforms. Presidents would also fill the Assembly with their people. Perhaps had we continued the requirement that the Assembly be composed of captains and one active crew member elected from each ship, all of the problems with communication, and the Assembly refusing to listen to my criticisms and reforms would have been avoided.

The refusal of the Assembly to hold new elections was one thing. Even their saying it was all part of a plot to allow me to run again is understandable, even though I was so burnt out I didn't want to run and I had gotten Matt to agree to run if there was another election. But, towards the end of the debate on the new election, the Assembly began to rise up and say that there wasn't anything wrong with Penny. They argued she was a great president and that my sim should be smashed for opposing her. That was the final straw. The only people left in the club were Penny's friends, and if they didn't want to save TOL, I wasn't going to keep on trying.

On April 29, after the split, I resigned as TOLs Senator to the Simming League because TOL had become a pathetic club and I didn't want to represent it. Nevertheless, over the next 3 months, I tried to save the club. However, it was no clear there wasn't anything I could do. No one would listen to me or follow me.

On July 13, I addressed the crew of New Horizons and resigned from TOL.

"To my crew,

I am resigning from command of New Horizons and from the sim club it is a part of, Trek Online. For seven years I have given my time and even money to make Trek Online a wonderful place to sim and relax. Over the past year, however, the club has experienced great decline, both as a result of the actions of some, and the inaction's of those who complain in private but do not support me when I try to take actions in public to fix the problems.

Over the past months I have tried my best to save Trek Online. We were once a club that was full of proud and fun sims like New Horizons, but today, New Horizons is the only decent sim left in the club.

Over the past week I have become particularly fed up with the situation in the club, and yesterday I sent an E-mail to all of the other captains calling on our current President to resign due to her failure to solve the problems in the club. When she became the President, we had about 70 members. Today we have about 30. I said that while I would prefer it if she were to resign so that new leadership could give the club a fighting chance, if she decided to stay, I would rather want to see TOL just disband here and now so that the club could take its rightful place as a great memory instead of dragging out an agonizing existence.

These comments of mine were viewed by my fellow esteemed captains to be treasonous. After all of the time and effort I have given to this club, after all of my hard fought battles to make this club a republic where everyone could have a voice and express themselves freely, to be called a traitor and to be shown the level of ingratitude from former friends and colleagues that I have been shown is too much for me to bare.

While I no longer have any loyalty to those who pretend that they are somehow leading TOL, I still have a tremendous amount of loyalty to the club that I served for seven years. I will not secede from it and take this sim to start up a new club. Therefore, that is why I am resigning.

My only source of enjoyment in the club over these past few months has been with New Horizons and all of you. Each one of you is a fine simmer and together we were a wonderful crew. It saddens me to have to leave, but I can no longer deal with the club. It clearly does not want to be saved and it clearly does not want me to be a part of it, and by extension, it clearly does not want any of you to be part of it either. One of my fellow captains bragged to me just tonight about how he wanted to smash my crew just to prove that I do not know what I am talking about when I say New Horizons is a great sim.

If you wish to pick a new captain and continue to sim in TOL, please do so. If you wish to pick a new captain and sim outside of TOL, please do so. If you wish to disband and go your own ways, please do so.

Hopefully, our paths will cross again,

=/\=

Chas"

Thus, after 4 months of simming, New Horizons came to an end. We had an impressive simming record, which was as follows:

Death of the entire crew - 4

Mutiny - 2

Crash landing - 3

Inflicting mass causalities - 1

Extreme violation of the Prime Directive - 1

Bar Fight - 1

Actually doing something constructive - 1

Saving someone - 1

Other - 2

Exposing a counter government with in the Federation - 0

Killing an entire species to save our own and inadvertently winning a war - 1

(Having a sim where everything reset at the end of the night was very wonderful indeed, and despite the TOL silliness, the sims actually were very professional.)

But all fun aside, after everything I had done for TOL, after the years of service, it was a very ignominious end. The club simply did not want to be helped or recognize that there were problems.

A few weeks after I resigned, and for a reason I don't know, Penny resigned as the President and Matt took over. But Matt wasn't up to the job either. He didn't sign on much, tried to avoid decisions, and resigned a few months later. Penny returned to the Presidency, and for a year, the shattered ruins of Trek Online continued to sim. It was a pathetic site, Penny and her friends would muster together every so often to hold a Challenger or Endeavor sim. Towards the end, old animosities were put aside and Penny, Vid, and myself simmed together on the Challenger on a few occasions, knowing that the club was already dead and not wanting it to end as it had.

On July 27, 2004, Penny E-mailed me and said that TOL was dead. She had given up on the Challenger and was disbanding the sim. The Endeavor had revolted and became an independent sim, and everyone else had left TOL. She told me I had won and that the club was now mine if I wanted to rebuild it. I replied that she still didn't get it. It wasn't about me. I didn't want the club, I didn't want to return as the President, I just wanted to help.

Perhaps in earlier years I would have taken up the offer and tried to revive the club, but I had already been the president twice and had simmed for a decade. There was nothing more for me to do or prove, and after so many years simming just wasn't as fun as it had been. Trek Online had a great run and it was just our time to end and become a cherished memory. Sure, I wish it had ended differently - everyone did. It still hurts that I wasn't shown the respect I thought I had earned after giving so much to the club, but I understand why it happened and where I was at fault.

I learned much about myself during my years in TOL and I made many lasting friendships. I still dabble in the Simming League, and many people from Trek Online have gone on to start up new clubs or become high ranking officers. When asked, I provide advise and help them where I can, knowing they're having as much fun as I did when I ran TOL.

Trek Online lasted nearly 8 years, a remarkable achievement in the simming world. We provided enjoyment and an online home for thousands. At our height, we were considered to be one of the best. We defined our generation and helped to change simming for the better. We had a great run. Who knew that a ban of misfits connected only by words on the screen could do so much, last so long, and have that much fun?

The club will always be a part of me.

I do miss it...

To all of you who were members of Trek Online, the Simming League, Star Trek Sims, STECO, ORS, and whose virtual paths I crossed over the years... my friends, enemies, and everyone in-between, thank you. Thank you for your help and the challenges; patience, hard work, perseverance, and remarkable dedication; from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you taught me and the fun you provided.

Jelly beans forever.

 

=/\=

Chas Hammer

Brooklyn

2005